Sunday, May 27, 2012
Thursday, May 24, 2012
The 53-year-old Coptic Christian woman reflected on what has happened just seven months after an evening of violence which became a defining moment for many in Egypt’s Coptic Christian minority.
“What happened after? Nothing,” says Mossad, who emerged from the incident badly bruised and became an activist and community organizer. “Nothing has changed, except there’s more fear and anxiety.”
Seven months ago, Mossad says she was in the crowd of protesters when she was suddenly assaulted and beaten by an officer who called her an “infidel.” The demonstration erupted into a horrific night of brutality in which 27 people were killed and hundreds injured in clashes between Egyptian security forces and mainly Coptic Christian demonstrators who were protesting against an attack on a church by Islamic extremists.
In Egypt’s sequence of bloody flashpoints since the January 25 uprising, the event is known simply as “Maspero,” the state TV building where demonstrators rallied against what Copts saw as indifference to the attack on a church.
In the aftermath of Maspero, though in great physical pain and mournful over the deaths of friends, Mossad was wheeled around Cairo’s Coptic Hospital, visiting other victims and encouraging them to keep up the fight for their rights. She encouraged them not to lose hope that the violence might produce a productive turning point in Egypt’s often stilted discourse around the rights of its Christian minority.
But, as it turned out, Maspero was not so much a turning point for Copts as it was an open wound, and one that Mossad says is still healing. Copts have suffered discrimination throughout hundreds of years of history in Egypt. Individual Copts have also been great Egyptian nationalists and leading thinkers, industrialists and artists who are frequently quick to point out that Muslims and Christians are like brothers in Egypt. It’s a complex relationship – as fraught as any sibling rivalry. But what is clear as Egypt takes its first faltering steps toward electing a civilian president, is that a democracy and the constitution upon which it is based are defined in how the rights of minorities are protected. Today Copts are left wondering and worrying about their place in a new Egypt.
Posted by Alexander Münch at 3:34 PM
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
1st casualty of the election. This could be serious
Police officer shot outside polling station
My Twitt to "Nerva" 8h ago...
Today, if just one Egyptian looses even one eye, I'll consider the revolution - a failure!
Posted by Alexander Münch at 2:53 PM
Egypt, the original heart of the Arab Spring, goes to the polls this Wednesday and Thursday to elect a new president, and the Obama administration’s favored choice, Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, may emerge the victor. “He could be the president who puts Egypt on a path towards genuine democracy,” says one U.S. official. But the self-styled “liberal” Islamist is no moderate.
One of the two front-running candidates (along with Amr Moussa, 75, a former foreign minister under Mubarak and most recently secretary-general of the Arab League), Fotouh, 61, is a doctor and former member of the Muslim Brotherhood, whose political party took nearly 50 percent of the seats in parliamentary elections and is the best-organized political force in the country. He served for 25 years in the Brotherhood’s leadership body before being expelled last year when he defied the group’s leaders to run for the presidency.
Fotouh is described as a reformist member of the organization, and as such has received support from younger Brothers, even though the Brotherhood is putting forth its own candidate, Mohammed Morsi. Fotouh is viewed as more liberal than the other Islamists in the race, prompting comparisons to Turkey’s Recep Erdogan. That would be the same Erdogan who proclaimed that “there is no moderate Islam,” who advised Turkish immigrants in Europe that “assimilation is a crime against humanity,” who has taken an increasingly bellicose stance toward Israel – and who is a favorite of Obama in the Middle East.
Posted by Alexander Münch at 1:10 PM
Tuesday, May 22, 2012
CAIRO – Election fever has even come to Cairo's Garbage City, the sprawling neighborhood built on — and living from — the waste of the Egyptian capital.
The tens of thousands of impoverished residents of the district are almost all Christians. For generations, they have collected the garbage from the city of nearly 20 million; they sort it then recycle and sell what they can. Their homes are built in and around piles of the refuse, where their livestock graze.
Like other Egyptians, they are now savoring the prospect of having their voice heard as the country begins voting on Wednesday for a new president, the first since the ouster last year of longtime leader Hosni Mubarak.
The overwhelming concern for many of them is to stop any Islamist candidate from winning. Many of Egypt's Christian minority — about 20 percent of the population of 85 million — are worried that if the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood candidate wins and moved to implement Islamic law, they will suffer greater discrimination.
As a result, many are turning to the most anti-Islamist candidate on the slate of 13 hopefuls — Ahmed Shafiq, a former air force commander who was Mubarak's last prime minister.
Anwar Rizk, a garbage collector in the neighborhood, says he's backing Shafiq because "I fear the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafis," referring to a movement of ultraconservative Islamists. "We have Muslims living here as our brothers in very good conditions, but I fear the Muslim Brotherhood because they are only after their own good."
His fellow resident, Iskandar Shafiq — no relation to the candidate — agrees and is also impressed by the candidate's strongman image.
"Honestly we are going to elect Ahmed Shafiq because he is the one that can provide safety and security," he said. "We feel this man is a politician like no other and frankly we have always known this man as a politician."
Along with Shafiq, the other front-runners in the contest are former foreign minister Amr Moussa; the Brotherhood's Mohammed Morsi; and a moderate Islamist, Abdel-Moneim Abolfotoh, who has gained support from some liberals for his more open views. A leftist, Hamdeen Sabahi, has also gained ground among those who want neither an Islamist nor a former regime figure. Though few Christians are likely to vote for the Brotherhood's Morsi, the community's vote could be divided among the others..
Posted by Alexander Münch at 11:54 PM
Monday, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) head Yukiya Amano met with Fereidoun Abbasi-Davani, head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), in an initial conference over Iran’s nuclear program. The Iranian Fars News Agency said the meeting represented the ”eagerness” of the UN to “further develop cooperation with Iran in various areas of nuclear applications,” and it is clear the rosiness of the state media’s characterization is not without good reason. For, while the West is banking everything on an appeasement strategy with Iran, the Islamic Republic is busy broadcasting to the world its Hitlerian intentions to annihilate Israel, daring the international community to bat an eyelash.
Renewed talks with Iran come on the heels of a speech delivered Sunday by Major General Hassan Firouzabadi, Iran’s military chief of staff, in which he called for the “full annihilation of Israel.” Like every other Iranian pronouncement revealing the murderous nature of the current regime, it will likely be brushed aside when negotiations between Iran and P5+1, (the United States, Russia, China, France and Britain plus Germany), begin in Baghdad tomorrow.
Amano’s rare trip to Iran marks the fourth meeting between the IAEA and Tehran. Two rounds of talks took place in Tehran in January and February this year, followed by a third round in Vienna on May 14-15. Yet despite reports of a more “upbeat atmosphere” both last week and yesterday, a large degree of genuine substance apparently remains beyond reach. “We have extensive activities in fighting cancer, food safety and security, supplying water needs and other applications of the nuclear technology,” Amano said. In other words, there was no indication of progress regarding the principal disagreement between the IAEA and Iran, namely a deal allowing the IAEA to inspect Iranian nuclear sites, most specifically the Parchin research facility, where IAEA inspectors were refused entry as recently as February.
Posted by Alexander Münch at 2:20 PM
CAIRO (AP) — An Egyptian court sentenced 12 Christians to life in prison and acquitted eight Muslims on Monday in a case set off by religious tensions in the country's south.
The Christians were found guilty of sowing public strife, the possession of illegal weapons and shooting dead two Muslims in April of last year in Minya province, about 220 kilometers (135 miles) south of Cairo.
The religious tension in Minya spilled over into violence last year when a Muslim microbus driver, angered by a speed bump outside a wealthy Christian man's villa, got into a scuffle with security guards who beat him.
After returning to his village of Abu Qurqas that evening, he rounded up the villagers who then gathered outside an ultraconservative Islamist group's main office there to protest his beating. According to rights researcher Ishak Ibrahim, the Christians nearby thought they were going to be attacked and shot from their rooftops down at the crowd, killing two and wounding two others.
For several days after, angry villagers torched dozens of Christian homes and stores.
The eight Muslims on trial in the same case had been charged with possession of illegal weapons and burning down the Christian-owned homes and stores after the shooting.
"The fact that the Muslims were acquitted means that the attorney general's investigation from the beginning was faulty and unfair because there was evidence to prove these men had burned Christian property," Ibrahim said.
The State Security Court, whose rulings cannot be appealed, handed down its sentence on Monday. The ruling military council is the only entity with the power to request a retrial.
Christians, who make up about 10 percent of Egypt's estimated 80 million people, complain that the courts and police often turn a blind eye to discrimination or violence against them. Some fear the surge of ultraconservative Islamists to power after Hosni Mubarak's overthrow last year could further curtail their rights..
Posted by Alexander Münch at 9:57 AM
Monday, May 21, 2012
The moon slides across the sun, showing a blazing halo of light, during an annular eclipse at a waterfront park in Yokohama, near Tokyo, Monday, May 21, 2012. Millions of Asians watched as a rare "ring of fire" eclipse crossed their skies early Monday. The annular eclipse, in which the moon passes in front of the sun leaving only a golden ring around its edges, was visible to wide areas across the continent. (AP Photo/Shuji Kajiyama).
Posted by Alexander Münch at 9:04 AM